Australian Man Steals Over 40,000 Rapid Antigen Test Worsening Supply Issues

By Epoch Times Australia Staff
Epoch Times Australia Staff
Epoch Times Australia Staff
January 19, 2022 Updated: January 19, 2022

Australia’s COVID-19 rapid antigen test (RAT) supply problems have intensified after around 42,000 RATs were stolen from an Australian freight depot during a countrywide shortage.

New South Wales (NSW) police were called to a Sydney depot on Tuesday, Jan. 18, after a man allegedly walked in and seized around 42,000 tests, worth more than $500,000 (US$360,000).

A spokesperson for the NSW police said that their “inquiries are continuing.”

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has said that the culprit should expect a visit from the police shortly.

“At a time when everyone across our state has made incredible efforts in keeping people safe, in making sacrifices, what a disgraceful act,” Perrottet said. “The police will catch you.”

The theft comes at a difficult time, as Australia is struggling with an Omicron outbreak which has been made more challenging to manage by a RAT shortage.

Australian retailers, especially smaller outlets, have been overcharging people for their rapid antigen tests.

Epoch Times Photo
A sign indicating sold out rapid antigen tests is posted in a Balgowlah pharmacy in Sydney, Australia, on Jan. 10, 2022.(Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have received reports of retailers selling the tests at prices significantly higher than the wholesale price. Currently, the wholesale prices for RATs only go up to $11.45 (US$8.23) per test. However, the ACCC has said that they have had reports tests are often selling for up to $20 to $30 (around US$14 to $22).

“At the extreme end, we have received reports or seen media coverage of tests costing up to $500 for two tests through online marketplaces, and over $70 per test through convenience
stores, service stations and independent supermarkets, which is clearly outrageous,” ACCC Chairperson Rod Sims said.

South Australia Wants Claims RATs Requisitioned Investigated

The theft comes amidst allegations that rapid antigen tests bound for South Australia were diverted to NSW and Victoria.

Premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall, has said that although the NSW and Victorian governments had denied requisitioning RATs at airports in Sydney and Melbourne, he had taken the reports seriously and had written to the ACCC chair, Sims, asking him to investigate.

Epoch Times Photo
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall stands behind Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he speaks to the media during a visit to the Osborne Naval Shipyard on September 26, 2020, in Adelaide, Australia. (Kelly Barnes/Getty Images)

“If these allegations prove correct, it’s quite possible that they are illegal, anti-competitive and, of course, they’re a massive kick in the guts for South Australia,” Marshall said. “If they (the tests)
have been taken by another state, that’s outrageous.”

The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, also addressed the allegations on Wednesday, saying that the federal government had not diverted any rapid antigen tests. He also described the allegations as “absurd.”

“The allegations that the Commonwealth has redirected supplies of rapid antigen tests, or indeed that the Commonwealth has impounded private supplies or sought to frustrate private
supplies. None of this is true,” Morrison said.

“I have no idea where that’s coming from, and you know, it just floats around on social media and then it gets reported,” he said. “I mean, something happening on social media isn’t a story. It’s
usually just rubbish.”